A broken ankle can increase the possibility of a secondary fracture; may become arthritic, making walking and other activities more difficult later in life.
NEW YORK, and GREENWICH, Conn. (PRWEB) October 23, 2018
Fractured ankle? It’s more than just an inconvenience that puts a crimp in wearing fashionable shoes or climbing stairs. In fact, an ankle injury can pose a serious threat to quality of life if not treated properly. That’s the word from nationally noted orthopaedic surgeon, leading sports medicine physician and US Ski Team physician, Kevin D Plancher, MD, who cautions a broken ankle can increase the possibility of a secondary fracture; may become arthritic, making walking and other activities more difficult later in life; and could be linked to other health issues, such as osteoporosis, a bone-weakening condition primarily affecting the elderly, especially women. "The good news is that we can help with early and proper diagnosis and treatment," Dr. Plancher adds.
Incidence of ankle injuries in the United States is rising, thanks in part to continued presence of a large baby boomer population “getting older and slower and staying in the game with tennis, running and other sports,” says Dr. Plancher, a clinical professor of orthopaedics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Other factors increasing risk for ankle fracture include alcohol consumption, lack of sufficient sleep and living alone, according to a July 2018 study published online for the Nature journal web site. Dr. Plancher adds that a history of smoking and diabetes, as well as a bone infection or nerve and blood-vessel damage in the injured ankle can complicate recovery.
Ankle fractures are among the most prevalent orthopaedic injuries. They happen when the ankle is twisted, rotated, rolled or overextended due to a fall, tripping, trauma like a car crash, exercise routine or sports.
If ligaments or tendons that help stabilize an ankle have been stretched or torn, the ankle is considered sprained and usually treated at home with ice or cool packs, compression bandages, elevation of the foot and ankle, and rest, says Dr. Plancher. If though, the symptoms don’t resolve in 3 weeks consult a physician for an MRI as you may have done more unsuspected damage to your ankle.
Should the injury be severe enough, one or more of the three bones that compose the anatomy of the ankle – the tibia, fibula and talus, located between the heel bone and the arch formed by the tibia and fibula – can break or even have a stress fracture. Treatment ranges from simple splinting or casting of the ankle to bone realignment and even surgery, depending where the fracture or fractures occur and how many bones are involved.
“Our treatment goal as physicians is to restore proper alignment, stability and strength to the ankle and ankle joint to return you to your favorite activity,” Dr. Plancher emphasizes.
Like sprains, a fracture in an ankle will cause swelling, pain and bruising. Medical assistance – and, if necessary, emergency care – is required if the injured ankle appears deformed, feels cold or looks blue, is numb or tingles, cannot bear weight or prevents movement of the toes.
Most ankle fractures require two months or more of immobilization and avoidance of any weight-bearing activity to heal; even more time may be needed before a patient regains full motion of the joint and can return to everyday activities, exercise and sports, Dr. Plancher says.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls, especially among those 65 years of age or older, are a primary source of injury in the United States. Annually, more than three million people are treated in hospital emergency departments for ankle fractures and other injuries caused by falls, says the CDC.
Although not all falls and trauma are preventable, Dr. Plancher offers the following tips to help reduce risks:
- Use footwear proper to a specific sport or exercise. Avoid flip flops in inclement weather.
- Start new exercise routines or sporting activities slowly to learn correct technique and build joint strength. Seek out professional instruction.
- Cross-train by alternating activities to avoid stress fractures. Rotate jogging with biking or swimming, for example.
- If prone to twisting an ankle, engage in exercises that enhance ankle strength and considering wearing support.
- At home, remove clutter and make repairs on conditions - like broken stairs - that can cause missteps.
Kevin D. Plancher, MD, MPH, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and founder of Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. He is a clinical professor of orthopaedics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Since 2001, he has been listed annually in the Castle Connolly directory as a “top doctor” in his field.